Legal implications of Artificial Intelligence

By Carla Koutroulis, Consilium Legal, Senior Associate. AI programmes operate across geographical and legal borders, making governance difficult, creating concerns around data protection, intellectual property and liability.

By Carla Koutroulis, Consilium Legal, Senior Associate. Chat GPT and other AI programmes are currently a huge topic of conversation – not only the fascination with the ability of these programmes; but also concerns over potential risks and dangers of the use of such applications, as well as the impact on jobs and the possibility of making humans redundant.

The software available can perform a variety of tasks at a whim, including drafting content, creating images, as well as integrate with smart home devices to learn and predict preferences. There are many unanswered questions in this field, and as yet we still don’t know how such programmes and applications will be regulated. Much like when Bitcoin and crypto-currencies entered the market, it took some time before ramifications were understood and regulations were implemented in order to ensure law and order regarding the use of such currencies.


Just like crypto-currencies, AI programmes can apply around the world and across geographical and legal borders, making governance difficult. This further links with the concerns relating to data protection, intellectual property and liability. It is yet another example of how today’s online world is borderless.

Employment and ethics

The potential impact on employment is one of the biggest criticisms of AI programmes. Elon Musk has described it as potentially leading to “civilisation destruction”, and encourages regulation on such programmes, despite himself being a founding member of OpenAI. The list of potential jobs at risk is broad – from artists and graphic designers, to journalists and copywriters – even lawyers are at risk of clients using the programmes to draft agreements for them, for free!

However, failure to consider the long-term impact of using this software exclusively, to the detriment of real-life humans, will likely have grievous consequences. This may either be in the form of a massive employment crisis, with substantial impact on economies; or, alternatively, major legal risk and liability where a party has relied on an AI generated contract they do not properly understand, or used AI generated work that may infringe on intellectual property rights or defame a third party.

Intellectual property

AI programmes use material from various sources, without necessarily crediting a source, potentially infringing on the original author’s copyright. This is potentially less of a concern when it generates created images as that is more than likely to be unique work; However, the user has to assume that the programme they are utilising is in fact creating unique works, and not simply retrieving an already existing and copyrighted image, which may potentially be a copyright or trademark infringement.

Data protection and privacy

Another major concern is whether or not the various AI programmes will conform with the various data privacy legislation across the world. Because of the nature of these programmes, vast amounts of data is being collected and stored, which more than likely will contain some amount of private information. This places these programmes at a great risk of hacking and data theft.

Fake news

We have already seen how rampant fake news is in today’s society. Due to the fact that certain AI programmes can not only create incredibly real looking images, but can also manipulate video and voice, there are huge concerns for what may accordingly be posted as “real news”. It will become incredibly difficult to discern what is real and what is generated, and again, issues regarding liability arise, where persons on social media potential share defamatory or damaging content, created by AI.

It is clear that we currently have more questions than answers when it comes to AI programmes, but it is obvious that they should be used with caution. This being said, it is definitely going to be used as a tool in some form in most industries and people should look to leveraging it instead of fearing it. This is a developing field, and there will no doubt be significant updates in the future.


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